The Pretender by F. Sionil Jose Summary Antonio Samson had just returned from the United States after finishing his doctorate studies. He visited his father in prison and told his father that he will soon be married to Carmen Villa, a member of an affluent family in Manila whom he met in the United States.
Carmen's mother did not like Tony because he is poor while her father likes him because he will be good for business. Anyways, the marriage was secretly held far earlier then planned because Carmen was already pregnant. Tony was an educator at the University until he quit after a dispute with Dean Lopez, the head of the University and the one who helped him get a scholarship to study abroad. Unemployed, Tony accepted the job Don Manuel previously offered him. Now begins the morphing of Tony. A large salary, air-conditioned office, easy work, and meeting with influential people, Tony was surely becoming different.
Carmen had an abortion without the knowledge of Tony. But he soon learned and this was the beginning of their indifference. One day, Bettina, Tony's cousin, visited him asking for help. He learned from her that Emy, his first cousin and to whom he once had a relationship with, had been rearing his son for the past six years. Emy did not tell him so that he could concentrate on his studies. Tony decided to visit Emy only to find out that she does not want him or needed him. He was introduced to their child only as a close relative visiting. One night, on going home after partying with his friends, he saw Carmen leaving the Villa mansion with Ben de Jesus, her business partner. He saw them kiss, followed them and saw them enter a motel. He went home, straight in his room not minding that a party's going on. Carmen arrived and Tony told her he knows about Ben and that he's leaving. Carmen could not do anything more. Tony went to his sister, Betty, in Tondo and there he made a lot of thinking. He thought about his father whom he hid from society even telling Carmen that his father is dead; his wife's infidelity; what he did to Emy, whom he realize that he still loves; for putting down his friends and Dean Lopez; and for becoming one of the oppressors of the poor, a traitor to his own kind. Feeling guilty for all that he has done, he committed suicide by letting his head be run-overed by a train. Carmen received the news the following day. She felt guilty for being unfaithful and blamed herself for Tony's death.
Character Analysis Antonio Samson Tony comes from a poor family. Nevertheless, he is intelligent and educated, earning his doctorate degree abroad through a scholarship grant. He returned home to the Philippines expecting not the best from life but never the worst from it. His marriage to Carmen Villa got him caught in the world and lifestyle of the elite, the powerful, where the only thing that matters is money. Though he never noticed, he has changed drastically from normal person that he was to an indifferent person who seems to have no control any more of his own life.
He symbolizes the poor people in society who are exploited by people of higher status. He is weak because of he could not help falling into the lifestyle of the oppressors. But we could never say he is evil for he was only blinded by the wealth and power. He also pictures a harsh reality. The reality that from down, we go up"ÃÂ¦ only to go down again because of things never expected.
Carmen Villa A typical rich girl. And because of the fact that they are rich, she doesn't seem to care about anything, anyways all that she wanted are granted. She took everything for granted. She symbolizes a lot of things. She symbolizes the people in society who do not use their brains but use their money; the infidels who realizes too late the consequence of their action; the vein who gives importance to unimportant matters; and the weak morals of the upper-class. But we cannot fully blame her for all of these. She was raised that way. She was raised in the way that every she does is okay, that everything she wants she gets, that everything is alright because you have money.
Money does not guarantee happiness.
Don Manuel Father of Carmen Villa, rich and influential. He approves of Tony as her daughter's husband because of Tony's expertise which will be good for business. He was the one who secretly arranged the marriage of Tony and Carmen wherein only few attended so not to embarrass Tony. Money is of main concern. Nothing matters but money. Don Manuel represents the rich people of society which have no compassion for others, especially the poor. They would step on them, use them, robbing them of their dignity just to have more money. They are the oppressor of the oppressed.
Mrs. Villa Mother of Carmen Villa who did not like Tony for Carmen as a husband. She is a hypocrite. She rides with the power and glamour of her husband. Now that she is rich she forgets about what she was, poor just like Tony. She also illustrates the crab mentality of Filipinos.
Father of Tony Tony visited his father after coming home from abroad. He is serving a life sentence for burning down the municipal building of their home town, Rosales, killing three soldiers and an hacendero. The reason why he did was oppression done to them by the rich. They were robbed of their rights of owning their own land and could no longer stand the corruption an abuse of the government and of the landlords. Tony never told anyone about his father. He was ashamed of his father. She even told Carmen that his father is long dead. Later, his father died in prison. Tony's father is a proof of the oppression of the rich and, because of they are rich, the powerful. They could no longer take the injustice that they placed the law into their own hands.
Betty Sister of Tony. Now married with two children. They live in Antipolo Street, Tondo, Manila where they have migrated from Iloilo after their father was sent to prison. She was the one who paid for Tony's schooling. And after coning from abroad, here is where Tony stayed. Betty represents the dutiful older sister. Helped his brother finish schooling even if she already had a family of her own. And in times of need, she has always been around.
Emy First cousin of Tony whom he had a relationship with before going abroad that later bore a son. Emy id not bother to tell Tony so that he can concentrate on his studies and not ruin his dreams. She waited for him but him marrying Carmen left her with no hope. When Tony went to see her and his son, she told him that she does not need him, nor her son. They have been doing well for the last six years without him and him being married, there is no chance for them to be together. A symbol of true love. Sacrificing herself for the one that she loves. Not telling someone that you're carrying his child because you think of his welfare is truly something. That is what I call noble.
Godo Old college friend of Tony. Has a sickly wife and two children. Works with in newspaper, the Sunday Herald. He once accepted a bribe from Don Manuel to publish an appraising article about the steel mill, the newest venture of the Villa's. The steel mill will oust residents of the place where it will be built. But because his wife will die if not operated soon, he had to accept the bribe. He represents the typical poor Filipino who hated the rich. He fights for his rights, for what he believes in. But there are times when he not take responsibility for the things that happen to him. He would rather blame others than blame himself.
Charlie A bachelor friend of Tony. He too was a writer in the Sunday Herald. On his stag party, he and Godo had an argument with Tony. They accused Tony of becoming one of the rich who burdens the poor. Charlie symbolizes the wise people in society. He is also afraid of what he does not know, just like the rest of us.
Dean Lopez Head of the University. A fellow Ilocano, he helped Tony get a scholarship to study abroad. In gratitude, Tony became a professor in the University after coming from abroad. Tony as his prospect to replace him, he signed Tony up for the Socrates Club, a prestigious club for Ivy League graduates and promised him promotions in short intervals. But after Tony's wedding, he began to change his attitude towards Tony. After being influenced by Senator Reyes, a Villa crony and a co-member of the Socrates Club, he began giving Tony a hard time and in this because of this, Tony quit his teaching job. Dean Lopez represents the anther group of people in our society. The type that would help other to get something in return. Another is the type that would use their authority to do what they want. And still another is the type that will let themselves be used and be influenced by other people.
Ben De Jesus Business partner of Carmen and the wife of Nena de Jesus. As Tony was becoming busy with his work, Carmen started going out at night until wee hour of the morning either with Nena or with Ben. Tony later found out for himself that what they had was more than just business matters. Ben is a conceited person driven by money. Wealth makes him feel powerful and could do what ever he wants. His affair with Carmen depicts the breakage of morality among the elite.
Nena De Jesus Carmen's best friend and one of the few persons who attended her wedding. It was her influence that Carmen had an abortion. The fear of losing her figure just like Nena made her abort their child without Tony's knowledge.
Senator Reyes An executive of the Villa's who influenced and made Dean Lopez give Tony a hard time in the University and, because of this, made Tony quit his job, which was the main idea. Now that he is unemployed, he might as well take the job Don Manuel had offered.
Senator Reyes is a traditional politician: corrupt and untrue. He represents the government - wicked and unjust - which becomes another oppressor to the poor. He is supposed to be one of the protector of the interest of the poor, the common people, but works for the rich. He talks about nationality when in fact he is no different to selfish individuals.
Lawrence Bitfogel He was Tony's roommate from abroad who came to the Philippines as Tony requested. It was unfortunate that he came here to find Tony dead. Anyways, he learned that here, the government is controlled by the rich while the poor suffer. He realizes that society killed Tony.
Thematic Analysis The pretenders is novel rich in symbolism. It depicts a certain reality in society money is power and you can do what ever you will if you have it. But besides what money can do, the story is about a lot of things which revolves around Tony's metamorphosis from a poor son of a farmer to a rich man who had become indifferent to others. It is a story of inspiration. Tony's success in terms of achievement is incredible. Eventhough Betty has her own family now, being a dutiful sister, she still provides for Tony's schooling. In the part of Tony, he work really hard in terms of his studies which later earned him a scholarship to study abroad for his doctoral degree. It is a story of love and loss. Being in love is a very splendid thing and sometimes destructful. Like Tony, you do not know if you truly love the one you love. Maybe it is but you can't really tell. Just when everything's to late, you'll finally realize. It is a story of social injustice. Tony's father took the law into his own had when the law could not protect his rights. The poor always victims of injustice so it seems, and I believe that this is the sad truth. It is a story if deception. You don't know if other people's intentions are true. With the low level of morality in society, we should be careful. People might like you because you are of use to them, of what you could do for them, all them, not because of what you are. It is a story of struggle. Tony's struggle to keep himself in sane is a difficult one. Anyone with no one to turn to, with no one seems to love you, it makes the world such a hateful place which makes you want to leave it, fast. It is a story of standing for what you believe. You should never let others manipulate you because you are your own being. You have you will and in certain ways, you are better than other. Be wise and make your own decisions.
Personal Reaction This is a true story. This is what really happens most of the time. This a book so real that I find it close to my heart. I can easily relate to it. It creates a vivid picture in my head as I read. A lot of significant things in the story are still significant today. The gap between the rich and poor is still as strong as the Great Wall. As said a million times: The poor becomes poorer while the rich becomes richer. This gap is made impossible to bring together because of people who greeds money and power and would not let anything stand in their way. As the poor work hard to uplift their status, there are others who create their downfall. Reading the story makes you live the experience, and from every experience you learn a lesson. Several lessons could be drawn from the story. Taking Tony's experience, we should be careful not to be used by others. There are times when we do not know that we are already being used or that people like us because of what we can do for them. Let him also serve as an inspiration. Despite being poor, she was able to finish his schooling and was able to study abroad for higher learning. From Carmen's experience, we should never take things for granted. We should be thankful and use all our resources in the most productive way. Another is infidelity costs. Love the one you love for they are the one that matters. If you are privilege, never use this privilege to oppress others. Be thankful for it and help those who need it. The bad perception and manipulation of the poor should be removed because they too, just like us, are humans"ÃÂ¦ have dreams, have integrity.
It's a shame these things happen, that's all I can say. That's my personal reaction. That's the reality that we have to face and it's a shame, really.